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April 28, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – While a parish priest in Cesena thunders from the pulpit against vaccines produced by cell lines of aborted babies, some 300 parishes in Sicily have made their own premises available for the administration of coronavirus vaccines on Easter Saturday: this is just the latest reflection of a rift that could not be deeper within the Catholic Church.

It all began on December 21, 2020, with the official  pronouncement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the moral liceity of the use of vaccines derived from cell lines of aborted babies, with the approval of Pope Francis. This marked a profound division within the hierarchy, in that it was seen as a response to those of its members who had instead branded these vaccines as always morally illicit and unacceptable. 

We are referring in particular to the document released on December 12, 2020, by five prelates – the Metropolitan Archbishop emeritus of Rige (Latvia) Cardinal Janis Pujats; the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana (Kazahkstan) Tomash Peta; the Archbishop emeritus of Karaganda (Kazahkstan) Jan Pawel Lenga; the Bishop of Tyler (USA) Joseph E. Strickland; and the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Athanasius Schneider, who instead contested the theological reasons offered to justify the liceity of the use of these vaccines.

After having preliminarily noted that “a growing chorus of churchmen (bishops’ conferences, individual bishops, and priests) has said that in the event that no alternative vaccine using ethically licit substances is available, it would be morally permissible for Catholics to receive vaccines made form the cell lines of aborted babies,” the five prelates claim that this thesis is based on: “two documents of the Holy See: the first from the Pontifical Academy for Life is title, ‘Moral reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived form aborted human fetuses’ and was issued on June 9, 2005; the second, an Institution from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is titled ‘Dignitas Personae, on certain bioethical questions,’ and was issued on September 8, 2008. Both of these documents allow for the use of such vaccines in exceptional cases and for a limited time, on the basis of what in moral theology is called remote, passive, material cooperation with evil.”

On the contrary, the five prelates “see a clear contradiction between the Catholic doctrine to categorically, and beyond the shadow of any doubt, reject abortion in all cases as a grave moral evil that cries out to heave for vengeance (see Catechism of the Catholic Church n.2268, n.2270), and the practice of regarding vaccines derived from aborted fetal cell lines as morally acceptable in exceptional cases of ‘urgent need’ – on the grounds of remote, passive, material cooperation,” so much so that “using vaccines made from the cells of murdered unborn children contradicts a ‘maximum determination’ to defend unborn life.”

Therefore, the document goes on: “the crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic once he has become fully aware of it.” To sum it all up, the whole issue boils down to the basic Christian principle that “the ends cannot justify the means.”

In their conclusions, the five prelates say that their document was penned in consultation with doctors and the laypeople, including grandmothers, grandfathers, father, mothers, and young people. “All of those consulted – independent of age, nationality and profession – unanimously and almost instinctively rejected the idea of a vaccine derived from the cell lines of aborted children,” the five churchmen pointed out.

Among the five prelates, Bishop Schneider is undoubtedly the most prominent figure and essential point of reference for those Catholics linked to the traditional liturgy and doctrine of the Church, so much so that one would think they are obviously all aligned behind him in this respect as well.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The most striking case, in the traditionalist religious sphere, is undoubtedly that of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), whose American district published a statement in late 2020, the “cleared” the use of these vaccines, this document was withdrawn, after being disavowed by the General House of Menzingen, which announced the establishment of a special commission to draft a document representing the official position of the SSPX as a whole.

Among the Catholic laity, there are even those who, like Professor Roberto de Mattei – the president of Fondazione Lepanto (which has nothing to do with Centro Culturale Lepanto) –do not limit themselves to upholding the liceity of the vaccines merely with articles, videos, and other interventions, but also with the publication and dissemination of a 74-page Italian study entitled “On the moral liceity of vaccination,” with its English version being already printed and promoted at breakneck speed.

“The position that Professor de Mattei takes it not that different from that of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as expressed on September 8, 2008 and December 21, 2020, but he distances himself from statements made by some prelates on December 12, 2020,” the traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli posted on March 19, 2021, in its English translation of a review of the above Italian study that appeared in Corrispondenza Romana (March 17, 2021), the foundation’s news agency which is edited by de Mattei himself. “At the same time he distances himself forcefully from many positions that are diffused on the internet that have no basis either in science or in theology or in morality,” continued Rorate.

If on the one hand, de Mattei’s stance is reported in the above review to have “gathered much support in the international community,” – including Professor Giorgia Brambilla, “considered one of the most respected voices in Catholic bioethics in Italy,” – on the other hadn’t an international group of nearly 100 medical women, consecrated religious and pro-life leaders have courageously called upon Christian and all people of good will “not to morally justify the use of vaccines contaminated by abortion, thus fuelling a growing culture of death based on the trafficking and exploitation of aborted children for medical experimentation.”

The signatories, from 25 countries worldwide, included 100–year old Polish physician Dr. Wanda Półtawska, a personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II and victim of pseudo-medical experiments carried out by Adolf Hitler’s personal doctor in the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbrück; Abby Johnson, a U.S. anti–abortion activist who worked as a clinical director for Planned Parenthood until 2009, when she became pro-life; Sister Deidre Byrne, a former military general surgeon and missionary who has served in Kenya, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan; and three former members of the Pontifical Academy for Life – Dr. Pilar calva, MD (Mexico), Mercedes Wison de Arzu (Guatemala), and Christine de Marcellus Vollmer (Venezuela). The signatories “humbly” called upon Pope Francis, the Vatican and bishops worldwide, to “reevaluate” their statement on the basis of a more complete assessment of the “science of vaccination and immunology.”

The debate raged on, up to the point that on March 24 Corrispondenza Romana (CR) had to run another piece by de Mattei, who reiterated his positions, insisting thus: “it is licit to be vaccinated because the Church assures of this, through its most authoritative doctrinal body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On December 21, 2020 the Congregation expressed itself with a concise document that refers back to another document that is more comprehensive: On the Dignity of the Person, dated from September 8, 2008.” (Full English translation by Fr. Richard Gennaro Cipolla here.)

Subsequently, de Mattei’s piece was reprinted in another traditional Catholic blog, OnePeterFive on March 31, 2021, with 248 comments, almost all of which are anti-vaccine, as acknowledged by Fr. Cipolla in the piece he penned on April 7, 2021 in response to them, appearing again in Rorate.

But de Mattei’s thesis was in turn rebutted by Bishop Schneider in another document which appeared in English in Gloria TV (April 1, 2021). “The documents of the Holy See (from 2005, 2008 and 2020) that deal with vaccines developed from cell lines originating from murdered unborn children are not infallible decisions of the Magisterium. The arguments put forth in the aforementioned documents regarding the moral licitness of the use of abortion-tainted vaccines are ultimately too abstract,” wrote Schneider.

“We need to approach this problem in a more profound way, and not remain in a juridical positivism and formalism of abstract theories of cooperation with evil, benefiting from the evil deeds of others, double effect or whatever one wishes to call such justifying theories.” He is convinced that “anti-Christian world powers that promote the culture of death are seeking to impose on the world’s population an implicit — though remote and passive — collaboration with abortion. Such remote collaboration, in itself, is also an evil because of the extraordinary historical circumstances in which these same world powers are promoting the murder of unborn children and the exploitation of their remains…The problem lies in the moral weakening of our resistance to the crime of abortion, and to the crime of the trafficking, exploitation and commercialization of the body parts of murdered unborn children. The use of such vaccines and medicines in some way morally – albeit indirectly — supports this horrible situation.”

Moreover, in his conclusion, Schneider also called upon people to form a new pro-life movement, to be unambiguously against any abortion-tainted vaccines whatsoever.

Another authoritative voice against the morality of abortion-tainted vaccines, is that of Don Pietro Leone, who in his insightful piece in Rorate on April 15, 2021, pointed out the abortion is not the only evil behind this vaccination, but that there are no less than ten evils: from murder to denial of baptism; from torture to parts of the baby’s body being stolen and trafficked for financial profits, with the rest disposed of like common refuse.

It is not possible to speak of remote and passive participation, he says: “We note that the term ‘remote’ in moral theology possesses a moral sense, signifying the lack of direct moral involvement in the evil concerned. We reply that the co-operation is not remote and passive, but proximate and active, for the evil in question in fact consists not in one single past event, but in the proximate and active participation in a process which extends from the original abortion to the very act of injection itself. This process is not simply a concatenation of discrete and isolated events, but a continuous, unbroken chain extending from the extraction of the child from the mother’s womb and culminating in the vaccination, as the last link of the chain. We call this chain a ‘chain of evil’ corresponding to the ‘cell-line’, in virtue of the moral value that supervenes upon the physical continuum.”

As part of this debate, it’s also worth mentioning the scathing attack on vaccine researcher Pamela Acker, made in another piece in Corrispondenza Romana (March 10, 2021), followed up by her own rebuttal on April 14, 2021 in LifeSiteNews. While the Corrispondenza Romana was not signed by its editor, de Mattei, he cannot but identify himself 100% with its content.

In his introductory note to Acker’s rebuttal, LifeSiteNews editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen epitomises the main points of the debate, saying he was “saddened…stunned…even taken aback” by the uncharitable tactics used to take issue with “vaccine researcher Pamela Acker and also a presentation of mine presenting evidence of the abortion-tainted nature of vaccines from the godfather of vaccines Dr. Stanley Plotkin.”

Among these main points addressed, was the “fake news” accusation in the CR piece headline, and the fact that its author questioned the motives of those who suggest the immorality of COVID “vaccinations,” saying that “claims about the immorality of the COVID shots ‘have repeatedly been debunked, so it appears legitimate to doubt that those who keep fostering them are in good faith’.”

But Westen added that the most serious error in the CR piece, amid “straw man arguments and other fallacies” is “asserting that vaccine researcher Pamela Acker is unqualified to comment on vaccines. ‘Pamela Acker is an American graduate in biology, with no specific expertise,’ he posits. Adding insult to injury, Barbieri continues: ‘Maintaining she is a qualified expert in biology would be like passing off a law school graduate as an experienced lawyer’.”

While we refer to Acker’s response for the technical aspects of the debate, she returns the accusation of not acting in good faith to her accuser, who concludes his article with the “unjustified assertion that ‘those who stubbornly claim that abortion exists only inasmuch as it serves the interest of the pharmaceutical industry are deliberately lying, or rather, they are simply ignoring the reality of the abortionist culture’.”

“It is hard to see how such a statement could have been made in good faith,” responded Acker, “particularly as those who are decrying the link between abortion and the pharmaceutical industry are not suggesting that abortion exists only for the purposes of biomedical research.”

At this stage one might well wonder: what are the real motivations underlying de Mattei’s crusade for the morality of these abortion-tainted vaccines? Albeit convinced that they are morally licit, however, he does not see them either sufficiently tested or useful, and therefore he won’t get one.

Two Italian sources

Those who are familiar with the Italian language and would like to have a wider and clearer picture of this debate, may well refer to two Italian sources: the video made by Don Giorgio Ghio, a priest responsible for the celebration of the traditional liturgy in a Rome church under a Vicariate mandate; and some posts in the blog “La scure di Elia” of a traditionalist Catholic priest, who presents himself as Don Elia. In the aforementioned video, Don Ghio speaks of the absolute refusal to use the vaccines, based on two indisputable motivations:

  1. The biological material comes from human foetuses aborted on demand for a fee and is taken from subjects still alive to ensure quality;
  2. The use of such biological material involves very high risks to people’s health, not only in the short term, as evidence by the thousands of cases of serious adverse reactions, but also in the medium and long term.

A fact which is constantly avoided and not considered, is that there is a real abortion industry structurally connected to the pharmaceutical industry. The present case has simply lifted the veil on a form of technological barbarism, which is by now widely spread.

The so-called vaccination, is the ultimate goal of an entire production and commercial process that requires as a sine qua non pre-requisite, numerous abortions and actions of inhuman cruelty on fetuses extracted alive from the users, explains Don Ghio. This is a process which would not have been carried out if there were no consumers of the product. Regrettably, it would seem that in this case, many progressivists and traditionalists appear to be on the same wavelength, condoning the same modern barbarism in line with the vulgate of the globalist powers that be.

As a matter of fact, banks that have invested in the production of the so-called COVID-19 vaccines, cannot see their profits jeopardized by moral objections, argues Don Ghio. However, those who do not receive funds from them are free to speak the truth for the honor of God and for the good of a humanity that is today threatened by an attempt of global genocide.

For his part Don Elia stresses the grave responsibility of those who are in favor of the moral licitness of such vaccination. “Whether it be for intellectual blindness or malice,” he says, “in any case they ignore or hide that those who get vaccinated become a healthy carrier of the virus (rather than being immunized) and therefore, in addition to putting their health at serious risk, they become a potential danger also for others.” And if this view of vaccine liceity is also shared by traditionalists, it is because the “system” does not limit itself to tolerate them, but instead encourages and support them economically, so as to harness dissent through them and keep it firmly under control. Don Elia says that a typical case in point could be that of a well-known foundation which, with no specific doctrinal mandate as far as he knows, persists in declaring vaccination morally licit: as revealed by reliable FBI-related sources, he maintains, it is financed by American banks.

In another post, Don Elia is of the opinion that the so-called vaccine, is part of the plan of Divine Providence, working like a sieve that separates sand from gold. “All men are thus at crossroads that forces them to choose whether to go one way or the other. At stake is not only physical safety, but also consistency with the truth and, consequently, eternal salvation. It is an issue on which one cannot absolutely give in, since the slightest compromise can cause the collapse of the whole cultural, social and religious building.”

But other than the moral and medical–scientific aspects, there is another crucial dimension that has hardly been addressed in this vaccine debate: mass experimentation on human beings. As aptly pointed out by epidemiologist Paolo Gulisano in a video panel on April 13th, 2020, the so-called vaccines against COVID are essentially experimental drugs, because a whole series of steps have been skipped with the justification of the emergency. Incidentally Gulisano, together with his colleague Silvana de Mari, who was also taking part in the above panel, are two Catholic medical doctors in the frontline of the resistance against anti-COVID mandatory vaccination in Italy.

Therefore he wonders: is it licit and lawful to force the administration of an experimental vaccine, irrespective of its nature and composition, on people against their will? In this regard he has co–authored a book, “Cavie per legge” (Guinea pigs by law), showing that there are international treaties and documents which prohibit such a practice. Most prominent of these if of course the Code of Nuremberg, as a result of the Nuremberg trial and its “never again” proclamation at the end of the Second World War. Clearly, such a type of vaccine must be administered only and exclusively to volunteers, without penalties for those who, in good conscience, refuse the drug inoculation. “Last thing we need,” he concludes, “is that unvaccinated people will have to wear a yellow star on their jacket so as to be identified and there is someone who probably would like this.”

In a more recent development on Gloria TV, as reported on April 19, 2021, an increasing number of Italian pro-life leaders, academic, journalists, physicians, jurists, lawyers and Catholic activists in general, are heeding the call of Msgr. Schneider to form a new pro-life movement. “The battle in defense of human life today cannot but ALSO entail a commitment to fight against those practices and structures that degrade innocent life to a reservoir of biological material that can be used in the field of experimentation and production, the proclaim in their response to Msgr. Schneider. “It is a question, then, of acting at a jurisprudential and legislative level, so that any use of human embryonic and fetal cells derived from the taking of innocent human life is legally reprimanded and criminally sanctioned, and likewise that any trade in human cells and/or tissues so derived is legally prohibited.”

In turn, Msgr. Schneider replied to the above letter on April 21, reconfirming his appeal to establish a “pro-life movement that courageously and steadfastly affirms the absolute unlawfulness of any attack on innocent human life from conception to natural death.” A “new pro-life movement [that] cannot remain silent about that monstrous and global structure of sin that is crying out to God for vengeance: the routine use by pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries of human cell lines from aborted embryos and fetuses.”

Thanking all those who committed to establishing this “new pro-life movement in Italy which is so sorely needed,” Schneider expressed the hope that “your noble and courageous initiative in Italy may inspire similar initiatives in other countries. I invoke the Divine blessing on all those who support this initiative.”